Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

A little girl falls down the rabbit hole and steps through a mirror, finding herself in an illogical, marvelous world.

I read the Alice books a million times as a kid, but it’s been at least 15 years. I forgot how weird they are! I mean, of course they’re odd and funny and whimsical, but exponentially so. The plot makes very little sense, though you always get the sense that Carroll has some internal logic in mind that the geniuses among us can figure out. I’m sure if I knew how to play chess, I’d get more of the jokes in the second book, but I’m engaged by the wordplay and the sheer audacity of Carroll’s imagination, as well as by his distinctly dry British humor. (A “Caucus race,” indeed.)

Is there a story that’s as much of an ur-text for 20th Century culture as Alice? We’re soaked in Carroll’s creation. I want to know how this happens. I want the secret of resonance, I want to believe that it might still be possible for some created thing to insinuate itself so deeply that we can’t breathe without it. Some days I worry that we’ve let ourselves become so nichified that we can’t talk to each other anymore. We could lose Alice down that rabbit hole. Maybe that’s why readers are blogging, to put our stamp on each book and say, yes, this is real, don’t lose it, keep it alive, without it we’re dead…

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